Just Another Inch

It was a deep shade of purple. That purple that’s almost black. There were only a few skeins left and it was a light-weight merino, silk and cashmere yarn. So, of course, Natalie bought two skeins to see about making a pair of socks for herself. She’d seen a new pattern that she was absolutely dying to try out, so it made sense. Tucking it into her knitting bag, she couldn’t wait to show everyone in her knit group when they met next Tuesday.
Tuesday night came and Natalie was eager to show them her progress. She was nearly done with the first sock. She’d already turned the heel and was in the home stretch. Everything was perfect. The women sitting around the cafe table with their iced coffees oohed and aahed as she pulled the socks out and laid them on her bag.
“Looks like you’ve only got a few inches left.”
“I know, I’m so excited.”
“How’s the yarn?”
Natalie passed them to Laura, sitting on her left.
“It’s a dream. Silky soft and I swear the gauge is perfect. I’ve never gotten it perfect before.”
There were laughs all around at that. Everyone passed the socks around, eager to see and feel. Jenny brushed her fingers across the finished portion.
“I don’t know how you did it. I can’t even feel the stitches.”
Natalie grinned.
“I swear, it’s the yarn. It’s amazing.”
For the rest of the night, she worked and worked, eager to finish the second sock. Just another inch…just another inch. After what seemed like forever, a teenage boy came over to quietly tell them it was closing time. With a sad sigh, the knitting circle began to pack their bags.
“So, almost done?”
“Should be soon…”
Natalie held up the sock to look it over.
“Looks like another inch or so, right?”
She frowned then.
“No…it should be less…” Then Natalie shrugged. “I’ll measure it when I get home.”
“Well, you make sure you bring the finished product next week, alright?”

All week long, Natalie took every free moment she had, trying desperately to finish that last inch. But it seemed like every time she measured, she was short an inch from where she needed to be. Hours and hours passed, chores went undone. Still, the sock was an inch away from being done.

Laura slid into her seat.
“Sorry, I’m late! Had to drop the kids off at soccer first. Did I miss anything?”
“We were just talking about Natalie.”
They were all busily working on their projects as they spoke, their conversation underpinned by the constant clicking of needles.
“Did something happen?”
“Oh! No, no. Or at least, nothing we know about.”
“She’s not here and she wasn’t at the library yesterday either.”
That was Jenny, leaning forward almost conspiratorially.
“You know her, she’s always there.”

Months passed and there was snow falling lightly as Jenny walked up the steps towards the library. She heard a strange murmuring behind her and turned, nearly jumping as she saw a bedraggled woman there shivering in the cold. She was filthy and looked like she hadn’t slept in weeks. Strangest of all, she seemed to be covered in a nearly black yarn that seemed just slightly purple. Clutched tightly in her hands was a pair of socks that was almost done.
And then the woman fell forward onto the steps, unmoving in the freshly fallen snow.